Turning to present posterior and walking backward toward another or other, often higher-ranking, elephant(s). Back-Toward may be observed when individuals (usually adult/adolescent and juvenile females) attempt to join or move to a more central or advantageous position in a gathered group such as during a Bonding-Ceremony, when Bunching, when joining a Resting group, or when an adolescent female approaches a mother with a newborn. Males may engage in Back-Toward during Social Play with a larger partner.
Back-Toward may sometimes be a gesture of appeasement to avoid an aggressive response by a larger elephant, or, within families, as a signal of respect - such as when joining a Resting group, or, in the case of Bunching it may be a way to keep eyes, ears and tusks pointed toward the perceived threat. All age sex groups may Back-Toward the carcass or bones of a dead elephant.
References: Moss 1988; Moss 1992: 130; Poole 1996: 159; Kahl & Armstrong 2000; Langbauer 2000; O’Connell-Rodwell et al 2011; Poole & Granli 2003; Poole & Granli 2011. (Full reference list)
This behavior occurs in the following context(s): Affiliative, Birth, Calf Reassurance & Protection, Coalition Building, Social Play, Submissive